The First Duke of Wellington
The First Duke of Wellington was not, as many people think, an English gentleman but an Irish one! He was born Arthur Wellesley, on the 1st May 1769 at number 24 Upper Merion Street, Dublin. His parents were the Earls of Mornington. It was his mother, Anne Hill, Countess of Mornington, who sent him into the British Army as an ensign in March 1787. He saw action in India at the storming of Seringapatam in May 1799 and later at the battles of Assaye & Argaum in 1803.
General Wellesley arrived in the Iberian Peninsula just after the outbreak of war there in 1808. He won two short battles in Portugal (Rolica & Vimeiro) before being recalled to London. He returned to command the British forces in Portugal and captured Oporto in May, 1809. His summer campaign of that year saw him cross into Spain ending in the successful Battle of Talavera on 27th and 28th July against King Joseph Bonaparte’s army. For this victory the British parliament made him Viscount Wellington of Talavera. The Spanish Cortes made him a Grandee of Spain with the title Duque de Ciudad Rodrigo in February of 1812 and in the same year became Generalissimo of the Spanish armies.
After his crowning victory over the French at the Battle of Vitoria in the north of Spain on 21 June, 1813, Britain made him Field Marshal. Wellington only faced Napoleon once in battle. This was on a Sunday, on 18 June 1815, south of Brussels near a hamlet called Waterloo. With the wars against France finally over with the downfall of Napoleon, Wellington was given titles from all the European countries and Commander-in-Chief of the British Army. From 15 February, 1828 until he resigned in October 1830, Wellington was British Prime Minister. In his later life he even became Chancellor of the University of Oxford and Master of Trinity House. The First Duke of Wellington died at Walmer Castle, Dover, at 3.25pm on the 14 September, 1852 in his 83rd year…..97 years later to the very day our chairman, Stephen Drake-Jones was born!